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It was autumn in Venice when Victor first heard of Prosper and Bo. The canals, gleaming in the sun, dappled the ancient brickwork with gold. But the wind was blowing ice-cold air from the sea, reminding the Venetians that winter was approaching. Even the air in the alleyways tasted of snow, and only the wings of the carved angels and dragons high up on the rooftops felt any real warmth from the pale sun.
The house in which Victor lived and worked stood close to a canal; so close, in fact, that the water lapped against its walls. At night, he sometimes dreamt that the house was sinking into the waves, and that the sea would wash away the causeway that Venice clings to, breaking the thin thread that binds the city to Italy’s mainland. In his dream the sea would sweep the lagoon away too, swallowing everything – the houses, the bridges, the churches, the palaces, and the people who had built so boldly on its surface.

About the book

Two orphaned children are on the run, hiding among the crumbling canals and misty alleyways of the city of Venice.

Befriended by a gang of street children and their mysterious leader, the Thief Lord, they shelter in an old, disused cinema. On their trail is a bungling detective, obsessed with disguises and the health of his pet tortoises. But a greater threat to the boys' new-found freedom is something from a forgotten past – a beautiful magical treasure with the power to spin time itself.

An atmospheric and magical thriller told in the best storytelling tradition by the wonderful Cornelia Funke.

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Press reviews

“A completely delicious read.' - THE OBSERVER 'A radiant novel.”


“Exquisitely told tale of adventure and intrigue.”


Author notes

‘The wonderful thing about fantasy is that it’s the oldest way of story telling – to clad what we feel and fear into disguises and make them more clear, to pass the borders of our everyday life and use our imagination for travels into unknown worlds and unlimited experiences.’

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